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A new UN report calls for the disbanding of Hizbullah and for setting clear borders between Lebanon and Syria.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in the report, compiled by envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, that it was now time for Syria to hold a dialogue with Lebanon over exchanging embassies and marking the border between the two countries.
The report, which was prepared as a follow-up to Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for Syrian forces to leave Lebanon, tries to make Syria play a positive role in building the new Lebanon and at the same time urges the Lebanese government to dismantle Hizbullah.
In the report, Annan addresses the dispute over the Shaba Farms area on the Golan Heights, which Hizbullah says is Lebanese land occupied by Israel. The group has made this small strip of land their primary justification for continuing attacks on Israel since the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.
The UN report accepts the Israeli claim that the Shaba Farms were taken from Syria and are therefore an Israeli-Syrian issue, not an Israeli-Lebanese one. "Its current status as Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, does, however, remain valid unless and until the governments of Lebanon and Syria take steps under international law to alter that status," Annan said in the report, first obtained by the Reuters news agency.
The report stresses the need for Syria and Lebanon to demarcate their 250-km. long border and to establish normal diplomatic relations. It also discusses the extensive Syrian involvement in Lebanese politics. Roed-Larsen wrote that 11 members of the Lebanese parliament told him Syria had threatened them to get them to vote for pro-Syrian president Emil Lahoud for a third term.
The US does not see Lahoud as a legitimate leader and is channeling its relations with Beirut through Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who visited the White House on Tuesday. President George W. Bush told Siniora the US "supports a free and independent and sovereign Lebanon."